Recognize present market environment and future trends
The market environment in the New Economy is so competitive that the new competitors spring up from almost nowhere with inventive products or services to attract valued customers. Undoubtedly, one must now remain ever attentive to predict where the next challenge can come from and equip oneself to evenly meet the challenge by constantly devising new ways to compete.
The major reason of many a business failure has been inability to adapt to changes in the market place. No doubt, predicting future has never been simple. One may be in a position to understand the market environment and future trends by gathering information on:
1. Customers, suppliers, competitors and other stake holders by studying and evaluating the entire value chain
2. Other industries which may have impact on your industry
3. Government policies and changes in society.
Such information may be obtainable from a variety of trade and industries associations and other commercial bodies, business press, financial reports of various companies, government policy documents, information about filing of trademarks and patents and the like. One may analyse this information and spot trends representing the directions of the future to develop competitive benefit. For example, figures of sales of two wheelers indicate that the sales of scooters are gradually dropping and those of motorcycles are steadily rising. If one is a supplier of any sheet metal parts to this industry, one may like to study this information more closely because motorcycles require fewer sheet metal parts. One may also like to reconfigure manufacturing facilities to cater to the probable higher demand of tubular fabricated structural parts required in motorcycles. However, if one is engaged in manufacture of bolts and screws from steel wires, he may like to consider manufacturing spokes for motorcycle wheels to leverage your expertise in metal forming. Always look around for new opportunities. The equations in the existing supply chain may undergo severe changes in the New Economy. The present supplier may turn a competitor tomorrow. And one may benefit immensely if he makes the current customer a collaborative business partner in the future. Put simply, one should never foreclose any options because the original plans may now be in jeopardy. In the past it was quite smart to keep ones knowledge to oneself. It is now even smarter to share it with others, even with your competitors.
Understanding the needs of the customers and profiling the customers
Learning about the changing needs and wants of the customers always pay more. Once the customers have been profiled, one may leverage ones success and profile the future prospects too. One must establish a new feedback loop between his company and the new end-users of his products. Would they value the products or services the same way as your erstwhile customers did? What would be their expectations from the products or services and to what extent one can satisfy them? Although attaining zero disappointments level may be a tall order, it would be better to understand what your customer needs or wants beforehand than to indulge in complaint resolution at a later stage. No matter what the business is, leverage information gathered on customers to build relationships with them. It does not cost much these days to keep contact with customers using e-mail service, does it? As one learns more about the customers one may be able to identify the truly profitable customers with whom he should cement your relationship by offering them what they want.
Segmenting industrial buyers
After having profiled the customers it may be advisable to segment them into smaller manageable groups defined by their unique needs, buying patterns and economic factors. It may also be possible to offer customised solutions to different segments. Although this may appear to be expensive, in the long run improved customer loyalty means enhanced profitability. Many industrial marketers erroneously believe that segmentation works only for consumer products. In fact, it works better for industrial products.
Segmentation of industrial buyers entails a clear understanding of what one intends to achieve. Some of the marketing objectives may be :
- To improve customer satisfaction level
- To build market share
- To increase profit.
Depending on the type of products or services, the efforts of constructing customer profiles and credit histories will certainly pay off.